Ohio66 presents an in-depth look at the circumstances surrounding the departure of George Maharis from route 66 in the middle of the third season.
KRLD-TV WELCOMES “ROUTE 66” TO DALLAS
No, the federal highway of that number has not been diverted to Dallas. Even with our Texas-type know-how, we were unable to do that. But, we do have in Big D, right now, some of the most exciting TV personalities in the country. With Sam Manners, executive in charge of production, George Maharis, Martin Milner, Audrey Totter, Albert Salmi, Denver Pyle, and Slim Pickens, the crew of “Route 66” are here to film what we believe will be some of the best televiewing of the season. Three segments of the “Route 66” series, seen of Friday nights at 7:30 on KRLD-TV will be filmed in the Dallas area.
This Saturday, the entire Screen Gems-Herb Leonard cast and crew will be at the Mequite Rodeo grounds. Beginning at 8:00 a.m., you are invited to come on out and enjoy the thrills and the sweat, the fun and the tears of a real, live television production.
Lets show these folks that we still know how to say HOWDY, FRIENDS in Big D. See you at the Mesquite Rodeo grounds, this Saturday, December 2, at 8:00 a.m. for the “Route 66” filming.
Dallas Times Herald — November 30, 1961
We're in the Pix For Route 66 (Whew, Boy!)
The road leading to the news stories in Dallas was full of bumps and grinds -- grinding cameras, if you please -- as the Times Herald got its kicks on “Route 66.”
For more than six hours Tuesday, during the height of deadlines, bulletins and rewrites, the vast city room went Hollywood. Batteries of glaring lights, veteran movieland technicians and Broadway actors burned their talents brightly.
The result will be seen in about six weeks on CBS television, during an hour-long network showing of “Route 66,” which will start Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
Dallas Times Herald — March 13, 1962
Silliphant Writes as Cameras Whirr
As Route 66 cameras are rolling in Dallas on the first of three episodes to be shot here, writer Stirling Silliphant is back in Hollywood hammering away at the typewriter on the next script.
When we lunched with Silliphant in Dallas earlier in the week, all he had was a title, “Arent You Surprised to See Me?”--“I always have to have a title before I can write a show”--and a premise.
“Arent You Surprised to See Me?” will be the second of three hour-long adventure dramas to be shot in Dallas and its environs. The first, which went before the cameras Wednesday at the Mesquite Rodeo grounds, titled “Long Piece of Mischief” a story of a circus clown with Albert Salmi, Audrey Totter, Slim Pickens, Ben Johnson and Denver Pyle as guest stars.
“I got the idea for the second script after talking with a friend of mine who is in analysis.” Silliphant told us. “She had had a dream and had asked her analyst for an explanation. The ideal grew out of the explanation.”
“I have been troubled by the disintegrating moral tone of the world. The Ten Commandments dont have much meaning anymore. Central character of AYSTSM? will be a seemingly rational young man who decides that he is the conscience of Buz (George Maharis) and must put him on trial. In the end, he intends to kill Buz.”
Silliphant said that the proposed script would be a tour de force for Maharis. Plotwise, Maharis and his co-star Martin Milner would be working at the Dallas Trade Mart, when Maharis is confronted by his “conscience.” The story, which would take place between noon and early the next morning, would have action that would take the two players to many Dallas sites.
“Long Piece of Mischief”--which comes from the quotation, “Life is a long piece of mischief”--had the finishing touches put on it only Saturday. Silliphant came in last Tuesday to begin its writing.
As he explained in an earlier Dallas interview, “You cant write a piece about Texas sitting in an office in Hollywood. You have to get the feel and the smell of the city.”
Silliphant explained that the three days between completion of the script and actual filming was “cutting it a little thin.” He said, however, that this was sometimes the case with Route 66 and Herbert B. Leonards other weekly TV series, Naked City.
Despite the last minute rush to script deadline, we told Silliphant that we thought the scripts on Route 66 and Naked City were some of the best-written and most believable in television.
“Frankly, we have been overwhelmed with the public acceptance of the shows.” Silliphant said. “Although our shows are known in the trade as sick shows, because they do not have the patently happy endings that mark most TV dramas, they have grown healthier and healthier ratings wise. In the latest ratings, both shows are in the top 20 or 30 shows. And, this without sacrificing any of the principles of our writers.”
Silliphant noted that one of the things that had puzzled writers about their shows was the lack of taboos and the freedom of dramatic expression.
Silliphant said that the third show to be shot out of Dallas would probably have a small East Texas oil town as its locale. There is also a chance that the company will return in the Spring for a fourth segment.
“Ive always wanted to shoot a story with a big department store background.” Silliphant quipped. “Wed like to shoot it in Neiman-Marcus, if we can make the necessary arrangements.”
Segments to be filmed in Dallas will probably be seen on CBS-Channel 4 Fridays in January.
Dallas Times Herald — November 30, 1961
Gettin' Our Kicks On Route 66
We got our kicks on Route 66 Thursday. And tired feet.
As we made our filmed TV acting debut in the current Route 66 segment being shot on location at Lewisville and Seagoville, we recalled David Nivens advice to his young son when he evinced interest in becoming an actor. Advised Niven: “Get yourself a good pair of shoes, son. Youll do a lot of walking getting a job and a lot of standing around after you get it.”
Although we were wearing our most comfortable pair of Swiss-made boots Thursday, we were a bit relieved when the first assistant director released us for the day and told us to be back Friday to wrap up our role in the segment that guest stars Tuesday Weld as our stepdaughter and Cloris Leachman as our wife.
Our original call for the Lewisville location site was 2 pm Thurs. Then, early Thurs. morning, as the clouds began to mount around Dallas, we were told our call had been moved up to 10:15 am. To a locationing company like Route 66, which has to turn out an hour-long feature every seven days, every hour is precious. The earlier call was issued in case exterior shots were rained out. Immediately our segment, most of it interior work, would be substituted.
Fortunately for the production company, Jupiter Pluvius threatened, but didnt deliver any major amount of moisture. Exterior shots with regular series co-stars Martin Milner and George Maharis went off on schedule. Also, featured guest players Harry Townes, Malcolm Atterbury, Burt Reynolds, Pat Newby and several groups of Lewisville residents also got their chances to emote for the cameras.
Our really big scene, shared with the Misses Weld and Leachman and two other Dallasites--Bill Crowdus (playing a lawyer) and Dev Landrigan (playing a doctor)--didnt come until after a late lunch. As it was, it was a thespic workout only for the Misses Weld and Leachman. We three men only registered emotions facially.
But, we learned a lot during our six hours of standing around an old house in Lewisville.
That a common day player (our classification) has to fill out a contract in septuplicate--if there is such a word for seven copies.
That the makeup man, Abe Haberman, has to be a psychologist as well as a paint and pancake dauber, since he is often the first person an actor comes in contact with at the beginning of a shooting day, and one just naturally goes away feeling better after talking to Abe.
That scripter Stirling Silliphant, when called upon to make a change in the script, can sit down at his portable and knock out stunning prose while the whole world explodes around him.
That director James Sheldon is a prince among men for putting up with us and for the kind and considerate manner in which he treats each and every member of his cast and crew--giving a little here, taking a little there--but getting a satisfying end product.
That the Route 66 production company may turn a whole town on its axis, but that it puts everything back just the way it was.
That Cloris Leachman is one heckuva actress and can turn the tears (real ones) on and off like a faucet.
And that were kinda looking forward to tired feet again tonight.
Dallas Times Herald — March 9, 1962
Route 66, locationing in Dallas this week, had to “shoot around” permanent co-star Martin Milner for three days. Sunday, in Los Angeles, Milners wife, Judy, gave premature birth to a son via Caesarian section. Birth of the child--named Stuart, after Milners agent--was not expected until March 15. As a favor to Milner, Producer Herbert B. Leonard was preparing to fly the whole troupe back to Hollywood for two weeks so that Milner would be near his wife as the stork approached. The Milners also have two daughters....
On the subject of Route 66, some practical joker called up dozens of Dallas girls passing himself off as a representative of Route 66. He explained that they were being considered for “extra” roles in the next 66 segment to be shot here and would they please show up Tuesday afternoon at the Statler Hilton Hotel for an audition. When they showed up at the hotel, they were told that the caller had said that he could not be present for the audition and would they call Holiday Inn Central, where legitimate representatives of Route 66 are staying. The prank disrupted telephone service at Holiday Inn for the major part of the day Wednesday. To save wear and tear on the Inns switchboard operators, prospective callers are hereby notified that no calls are being put through to the stars of the show. So, save your dialing finger....
Dallas Times Herald — March 7, 1962
Robert Maharis Leads Vanguard
Robert Maharis Leads Vanguard
Robert Maharis, brother of the tall, dark and handsome George Maharis of "Route 66" fame, is in town scouting locations for the TV series which will originate a segment in this area shortly.
Brother Bob, who is production assistant, goes ahead and selects good filmable spots suited to the script, also lines up what local talent is needed. He says he has already contacted local drama groups, such as Dallas Theater Center, Theater Three, the Chappell Community Players, and collegiate drama groups of the vicinity, to stand by.As soon as he gets a script, which is any moment now, he'll round up the types needed. Brother George and co-star, Martin Milner, and members of the technical crew, which number about 45, are expected in Dallas Monday.
Dallas Morning News — December 22, 1961
Cast, Crew Arrive 11-27-61
'Route 66' Cast, Crew To Arrive in Dallas
The cast and crew of "Route 66," TV show will arrive in Dallas Tuesday to film three shows in and around this area.
"Route 66," is the only network TV series that films entirely on location. It has no home studio base, and it is literally a self-contained studio on wheels.
The company will travel in a caravan of ten autos, five of which are the biggest size vans permitted by law, and the balance are five Corvettes to transport the stars and company "brass" from one location to another.
The five vans contain every facility found in a complete Hollywood studio. One van contains the wardrobe necessary to costume the cast; another is a complete prop department, still another contains all the necessary camera equipment, another holds all the equipment necessary to light the sets; cameras and a "dark" room are housed in another; and one more contains the dressing rooms and storage room necessary to hold miscellaneous supplies.
The cast and crew comprise some sixty people, and they will all be stationed at the Marriott Motor Hotel.
Every man of the crew is a specially selected expert since he must be able to repair his own equipment in case of a break down. There is no time to send for parts to Hollywood.
"Route 66" is an adventure series that stars Martin Milner and George Maharis.
The first episode to be filmed in Mesquite and Dallas concerns a circus clown whom Tod (Martin Milner) and Buz (George Maharis) meet on the road and they give him a "lift" since both are headed for Mesquite...the boys to work in a brick yard and the circus clown to meet a trick rider with whom he is in love and who performs in the Mesquite Championship Rodeo.
Among the thrilling scenes to be filmed on the rodeo grounds in Mesquite are those of the stars riding saddle bucking broncs; trying to remain on the backs of wild Brahma bulls, and all the other daredevil stunts that one expects of a Texas rodeo.
Executive Producer and owner of the "Route 66", TV series is Herbert B. Leonard; its producer is Leonard Freeman; Chief of Production is Sam Manners,; Associate Producer on tour is Herb Stewart; and Location Manager is Bob Maharis.
Dallas Morning News — November 27, 1961
Crowd Sought For TV Series 11-29-61
Crowd Sought For TV Series
All you TV viewers and "Route 66" fans who would like to watch a segment of the show being filmed and also be a part of the crowd used in the show, go out to Mesquite Rodeo grounds at Mesquite on Saturday, starting at 8 a.m.
The troupe for the roving series arrived on schedule Tuesday at Love Field complete with fans for the regular stars, George Maharis and Martin Milner. The latter, incidentally, got a day off as they were not being used in the first scene to be shot. Maharis used his off-time to work on his car, then drive around the city. When last seen he was headed for some shopping and also planned to take in a movie.
Milner, at the Marriott Motor Hotel where the troupe has it's headquarters, studied his script, rested and took it easy.
In the meantime, back at Sam Ventura's Club Village in Oak Lawn, where the sole scene not at the rodeo, takes place there was a lot of activity. When we dropped by for a brief look, the crew was busy setting up lights and getting camera angles. Herb Stewart, producer on tour, David Lowell Rich, director, and Bob Maharis, location manager, were busily overseeing things.
Guest performers who will be featured in this segment are Audrey Totter who will play a rodeo performer, Albert Salmi, the rodeo clown, and the veteran actor, Slim Pickens. They were on hand, rehearsing and waiting for the actual filming.
Also slated for a small role in this scene was Paul Cartwright, maitre d' for the Club Village.
Work at Mesquite with Maharis and Milner in the scenes will start Wednesday morning.
Dallas Morning News — November 29, 1961
'Route 66' Detours to Main Street 12-17-1961
'Route 66' Detours to Main Street
Dallas County had a different sheriff Saturday.
He was James Brown, replacing Bill Decker in an unofficial capacity as Sheriff Strode. The lanky Central Texas native was playing before the vagabond cameras of the Route 66 television show, here for a locally set saga.
"Quiet! Roll 'em. Voice, Action!"
It was Hollywood all the way in the small glass-enclosed cubicle Decker calls home any other day except this particular Saturday.
Brown--better known to the young set as Lt. Rip Masters of the Rin Tin Tin show--played opposite Marty Milner, freckle-faced costar of the "road" show with George Maharis.
Maharis was missing from the scene Saturday. He was already the captive--on film--of a homicidal maniac who was demanding a ransom that all the people of Big D obey the Ten Commandments for 24 hours.
The sheriff's office scenes play a strategic part of the show, which should go before the public in from four to six weeks, said Sam Manners of Hollywood, executive in charge of productions for Herbert B. Leonard Productions, Inc.
From the 60-page script, 11 pages were being unreeled during more than eight hours of shooting. More than 30 producers, directors and technicians crowded among light standards and camera moved into the sheriff's office.
And there were some local folk on hand to add their acting abilities; Ray Hyke and Dale Berry, who play criminal investigators, and Linda Johnson, an Arlington lovely making her camera debut as receptionist at the Trade Mart.
The "roll 'em" command sounded often during the day. If a scene wasn't right, director Jim Sheldon had it run again--sometimes four or five times.
When the good shot came through, then it was back into the interrogation room for rehearsal of script while the technicians readied for another camera angle.
Dallas' real-life criminals cooperated-- things were quiet around the sheriff's office. It was so quiet, several deputies got into bit parts--hauling in a handcuffed "prisoner" or working at a desk, Their talent fee--$8.
The "66" crew will wind up shooting Wednesday, after making shots from the Southland Center, Trade Mart, the Marriott Hotel, a shopping center, drive-in theater and Dallas Love Field. The troupe will return in February for another shooting.
Decker appeared pleased at the goings on although the office routine was torn asunder. He and chief deputy Alan Sweatt were on hand to lend technical advice to make the film have that authentic appearance.
The high sheriff's only moment of alarm came at midday. "I don't mind them using my office. But where are they going with my furniture?" he asked as some burly stage hands started out a side door with his sofa.
Dallas Morning News — December 17, 1961
Route 66 Leads to a Cemetery 3-7-1962
'Route 66' Leads To a Cemetery
Tuesday we had lunch with Tuesday on the side of a road, right by a cemetery, just outside of Lewisville, Texas.
Yes, that's right, but before somebody suggests that a man in a white coat be sent for, let us explain that we were visiting the "Route 66" company which was shooting there, with Tuesday Weld as one of the guest stars.
Also on hand were the series' regular stars, George Maharis and Martin Milner; Cloris Leachman, who also guest stars in this segment; James Sheldon, the director, and the great crew which travels with the 66'ers.
Between bites of hearty beef stew and carrot and pineapple salad (all low calorie, Doctor) we chatted with the members of the troupe.
Marty Milner had just flown in from California where he had rushed to be with his wife when their third child arrived prematurely. The new arrival, a son who has been named Stuart, joins two older sisters. Milner said he hated to hurry back to work here, but then again he was escaping some of the hardships of the family moving into a new home.
The handsome bachelor, Maharis, who started out as a singer, has a new single recording coming out this Friday. On the Epic label, he sings "Teach Me Tonight" with "When the Lights Go Down" on the flip side.
George, who also has a new Epic album coming out next month, "George Maharis Sings", told us that these discs were 10 years in the making. Before he started acting and hit big in "66," he sang, but on bad advice and poor musical coaching he almost ruined his voice. He had to remain absolutely silent for three weeks once, and also took vocal therapy. He still does exercises to keep the vocal chords in shape.
Miss Weld, with long blonde hair flying in the Texas breeze, told us that she gets restless and bored when she isn't working. Once she put on a dark wig, applied for, and got a job in a small restaurant in Los Angeles. She says she worked there two months or so and nobody, including the owners, ever recognized her.
She says she would like to travel, also get into other lines of work, but at 18 she feels she has lots of time.
Miss Leachman, who is the wife of producer-director George Englund, is just back from Thailand where her husband is now shooting "The Ugly American" with Marlon Brando.
She has "orders" to get something "real Texas" for her three small sons, Adam, 8; Bryan, 6 and Georgie, 4.
One of the fine young actresses who appear frequently on our TV screens, she recently guest-starred in "The Man in the Middle," an "Untouchables" segment with Martin Balsam. And she made the pilot for "Joe and Josie" with Mort Sahl. This is a comedy, very funny she says, with Mort as a taxi driver and herself as his wife. It's due on ABC this fall.
Meanwhile, back at the cemetery, Sheldon was shooting a scene for the segment which is called "Love Is A Skinny Kid". This cemetery, located high on the top of a wooded hill, is a beautiful spot, though the trees were bare. Some of the tombstones date back to the 1880's, and many are for children who died at the ages of 3 or 8 years.
Here in the bright Texas sunshine, a blonde, big-eyed Dallas youngster, 6-year-old Ann FitzGerald, was making her acting debut, as the frightened daughter of Miss Leachman, the villainess in the piece.
The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John FitzGerald, 13525 Brookgreen, Ann and her sister, Jennifer, 4, both have roles in this episode.
Tuesday will be seen as the embittered 18-year-old whose mother put her in a mental institution, then declared her dead, with a tombstone in the local cemetery to prove it.
The little FitzGerald girls play the mistreated girl at the ages of 3 and 6. Neither child has ever acted before, and they got the parts when their parents heard two blonde girls of those ages were needed. And both are doing nicely, according to Mr. Sheldon.
Dallas Morning News — March 7, 1962
World's Fair 4-5-1962
Dallas friends will be sorry to hear that George Maharis, co-star of the TV series "Route 66" which filmed here recently, is being treated in St. John's Hospital in Hollywood for infectious hepatitis. Maharis, who went to the hospital Monday is expected to be hospitalized for several weeks. Production of the show, scheduled to film in Seattle at the World Fair opening, April 21, will continue with co-star Martin Milner.
Officials at Screen Gem Studios, producers of the series, have alerted actors who worked with Maharis to get medical check-ups because of the infectious nature of the disease. That could apply to many in Dallas who were with him, either socially or working in the segments made here.
Just in passing fans and friends could send him a card to cheer him up.
Dallas Morning News — April 5, 1962